A nice, ripe tomato. (Photo via wikipedia)

A nice, ripe tomato. (Photo via wikipedia)

Tom met with his older mentor Dwyer for his weekly chat.

“You seem troubled,” observed Dwyer.

“You know that project that I’ve been working on?  It just didn’t work and I couldn’t get the result that I was after.”

“That happens sometimes,” said Dwyer, shrugging his shoulders.

“But I worked so hard, I deserved a better outcome,”  responded Tom with frustration.

Dwyer sat in silence for a moment.

“Let me show you something,” said the mentor as he jumped to his feet and led his protegé outside.  “See this dead tomato plant?”

“Yes, what about it?”

“I did everything right when I planted it.  I watered it, fertilised it and made sure that there were no weeds around it, but it still died.”

“So what?” asked Tom indignantly.

“No matter how much you want to control the final outcome, you can’t.  All that you can do is control the controllables, take responsibility for doing all that you can and leave the outcome up to God.”

“So what do I do?  If I can’t be guaranteed success, should I just give up?”

Dwyer chuckled to himself and led his young friend back inside.

“That’s the dilemma, isn’t it?”  said the sage.  “And it’s one that gives too many people an excuse for not doing anything remarkable with their lives.  If you can’t be sure of succeeding, why bother?”

“Why indeed!” said Tom as he walked towards the front door to leave.

“Before you go, could you get me something from the pantry?”

“OK,” said Tom.  When he opened the pantry door, he was confronted with a basket full of large, juicy, bright red tomatoes.

Dwyer observed Tom’s surprised face and said, “Of course, not every tomato plant died.  If you consistently do the right thing, you will dramatically increase your chances of delivering phenomenal outcomes.  But if you give up due to one or two negative results, you’ll never reap a reward.”

I wrote this story as a reminder that despite our best efforts, not everything that we try will be successful.

1 Corinthians 3:6 says, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.”

Whilst we can’t always control the final outcome, we can control our attitude, how much we are willing to learn, how hard we work and how persistent we are in the face of obstacles.

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